Wray says Chinese espionage is the FBI’s top counterintelligence priority

Confronting the counterintelligence and economic espionage efforts emanating from the authoritarian government of China and the Chinese Communist Party are the FBI’s top counterintelligence priority.

“The greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality, is the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Wray said the Chinese government is employing tactics that seek to influence lawmakers and public opinion to achieve policies that are more favorable to China but the communist empire is also using more nefarious tactics.

Among those Wray said, the Chinese government is trying to become the world’s greatest superpower through predatory lending and business practices, systematic theft of intellectual property, and brazen cyber intrusions.

A U.S. citizen and four officials from China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) were charged with conspiracy and other charges related to an espionage and transnational repression scheme in an indictment that was unsealed in federal court in May.

In that case, Wang Shujun, 73, of Queens, New York, acted as a covert intelligence asset by spying on prominent pro-democracy activists and organizations and reporting sensitive information to his co-defendants, who are members of the Chinese government’s Ministry of State Security.

In July, five defendants, including one current and one retired federal law enforcement officer, were charged with various crimes pertaining to a transnational repression scheme orchestrated on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The scheme targeted U.S. residents who are political dissidents that have been critical of the PRC government.

Among other crimes, the defendants plotted to destroy the artwork of a Chinese national residing in Los Angeles and tried to use a restricted federal law enforcement database to obtain the tax returns of a pro-democracy activist, as well as other personal and confidential information regarding a number of dissidents residing in the United States, such as passport information and photos, or flight and immigration records.

“As alleged, this case involves a multifaceted campaign to silence, harass, discredit and spy on U.S. residents for exercising their freedom of speech – aided by a current federal law enforcement officer and a private investigator who provided confidential information about U.S. residents from a restricted law enforcement database, and when confronted about their improper conduct, lied and destroyed evidence,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. 

In a separate case, a married couple employed as research scientists at a major American pharmaceutical company pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from their efforts to gather confidential mRNA research from that company to advance competing laboratory research in China.

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